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RAY AND JILL DAVIS – A blog for 2014

About us…a short history, 100 years in a capsule

God is the author of world history, it is HIS-Story. Each of us has a story, and though we are just a blip in the grand scheme of things, our story is a part in what God is doing. It has been our privilege to be one of the blips serving God in Kenya for over 40 years with Africa Inland Mission (AIM), and with Africa Inland Church (AIC). This is our story.

Our first 27 years in Kenya found us in church planting and community development work among two different tribal groups, the Turkana (11 years) and the Pokot (16 years), in the semi-arid areas of northern Kenya. For the remaining 14 years (from 1998 to 2012) we were teaching, seeking to transfer our knowledge, experience and skills to African missionaries at the AIC Missionary College in Eldoret. Our vision was – and still is – to see the church in Africa take up the baton of fulfilling the Great Commission among the peoples of the African continent.

FOUR GENERATIONS OF DAVISES IN AFRICA.

THE FIRST GENERATION. We are carrying on a family calling and tradition of cross-cultural ministry that was started by my (Ray’s) grandparents, Dr Elwood and Bernice Davis who came as a medical missionaries in 1911. They developed and expanded the Kijabe Hospital in the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s.

THE SECOND GENERATION. My father, Linnell, was born in Kenya and after elementary school at RVA, he did high school and Bible and university training in the USA. He returned with his wife Martha to Kenya in 1938, and they worked in Ukambani and founded Scott Theological College in 1962.

THE THIRD GENERATION. Four boys were born to them in Kenya, and three of us returned there as missionaries. I was the third born. I went to Rift Valley Academy (RVA), then to university in USA, and I returned single, to serve in Kenya in 1971. I went back to the USA in 1972 and started an MA in missions. I met Jill, we were married in 1973, and then we  came together to Turkana later that same year.

THE FOURTH GENERATION. God blessed us with three children, a daughter born in 1976 named Patty-Leigh, a son named Daniel (aka Davis) born in 1978. In 1980 God gave us another son, James Dayton Davis, who never saw the light of day here on earth. He is buried in the cemetery in Kijabe, Kenya. Both of our living children are married and each have two children of their own. They have both served cross-culturally in Africa as well as other areas of the world, and our son is still a full-time worker in Africa.

THIS STORY IS FOCUSED ON THE THIRD GENERATION.

Jill and I closed the chapter of our ministry in Kenya in 2012. After a fruitful and fulfilling ministry of 14 years at the AIC Missionary College, the Lord led us to a new field. In May of 2012 we handed over our teaching and administrative responsibilities to others. We downsized our things and packed up the rest, and we moved to South Sudan in June. For the next 12 months we lived in temporary housing. The first 7 months we were learning language, and developing relationships with the local people in the town of Torit, the capital of Eastern Equatoria State.

In March of 2013 we were given a budget to build a small house, and it was (mostly) completed by July and we moved in. For the next 6 months we were involved in various church activities that partially related to our primary ministry assignment: to work with the church in developing its missionary outreach to its own unreached people groups in South Sudan, and in training their cross-cultural workers.

 About our AIM South Sudan Unit (team)…  from the 1950’s to 2013

AIM first entered into Sudan more than 60 years ago, but that’s another story – of entries and evacuations, of buildings and destructions – a story that is told elsewhere. In the year 2005, after decades of war with the Arab government of (north) Sudan in Khartoum, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed. There was a time of peace and growth, and a 6 year waiting period given, after which South Sudan would vote in a referendum. They would decide if they would remain one nation with the north, or they would secede and become an independent nation. The referendum in 2011 voted 99% to secede and independence was given in July 2011.

AIM had been in and out of the southern areas of Sudan throughout the war years, but in 2005 they were able to come in with more assurance of peace and freedom to extend the gospel.

AIM PERSONNEL IN SOUTH SUDAN IN 2013.

Russ and Lyn Noble (having already lived through many years of ministry in war time) moved to Torit after the CPA, and in 2011 Dr Phil and Linda Byler moved into the old mission station house in the town. They were later moved to Kampala, Uganda to become AIM’s Central Region Executive Officer. In 2012, Jordan and Andrea Scotland with 3 young children moved into that house. They had previously served for 3 years from 2005 to 2008 in Ikotos, another mission station about 100 km away. When we joined the Torit team in June 2012, we were the 5th and 6th members of the AIM group in Torit.

Others in our South Sudan Unit are as follows: Geoff and Pat Hartley came in 2012. Having had experience in southern Africa, they became the unit leaders for South Sudan. They live on the Didinga mountain, a day’s drive away from Torit, in a mission center called Nagishot. Two AIM women teachers are also there, Kim Davey, and Abbi Banham.

A half day’s drive east on the main road from Torit toward Kenya is a small center called Camp 15. Jacob Borgelt is there working to reach the Larim people. In the north of the country, two other single AIM women are working. Nicola Limburger, and Margit Mueller are doing medical work there.

The Scotlands are doing discipleship in the town of Torit as well as going out to surrounding rural villages, and the Nobles are training literacy teachers to teach reading in the local vernacular language of Latuka. In 2013 Jennifer Wanamaker came as a short-term teacher to help the Scotland children with their schooling.

Another couple, Joshua and Justina Musuva, live about 3 hours’ drive from Torit. They are a Kenyan family sent by the AIC Kenya church and have been among the Lopit people for nearly 9 years. They were on the first Lopit TIMO team, and then when their 2 year assignment was completed they returned and have continued up to now. They were asked to lead a second TIMO team among the Lopit people, and the 6 new members have just arrived.

 The Close of the Year 2013

There was hope and cautious optimism for the world’s newest nation after two years of independence. Our team was looking forward to an expanding program of outreach for the new year. We were very excited to welcome the new TIMO team of 6 added members, coming under the leadership of the Musuvas. They arrived on December 13th, ready to jump in to learn the language and culture of the Lopit people, in a center about 25 km away from the first Lopit team. The new team members are Robert and Carol Bett from Kenya, Guilherme and Marina Stutz from Brazil, Marlene van Tonder from New Zealand, and Ashley Burkhardsmeier from USA. They moved into their simple houses and immediately did a week of intensive language learning using the LAMP method.

Then history took a major and ominous turn. Fighting started between two factions, first in the capital city Juba, then it spread to smaller cities up north where the two warring ethnic communities share territory and resources. In Torit we had planned to celebrate Christmas with our local church and then leave the next day for Uganda for our annual conference. When tensions and uncertainty rose the week before Christmas, we decided to leave a few days earlier. Two days later the TIMO team was flown out of their area after finishing their week of language learning. The war was NOT in our area, but because of great uncertainty for the whole country, it was considered wise for us to leave.

With escalating hostilities, our hopes were dashed for the world’s newest nation and the ongoing extension of the gospel , and our hearts were broken for the trauma and suffering of thousands of people in our adopted country.

And now we are in 2014…

We pray and trust God to bring violence to an end, and we pray for direction for us as we  return to our places of work. Our agendas may be different than what we thought a few weeks ago as to what we would be doing. God knows what’s ahead for us.

The story continues in our blog posts.